The Hoekstra Family



 to the History of
The Hoekstra Family 

(pronounced HOOK-stra) is a Frisian name that means "from the hook" or "from the corner".  Frisian is the language spoken in Friesland, a province of the Netherlands.  Comprised of the northwestern portion of the Netherlands mainland, along with a major portion of the Frisian Islands (a chain which extends from the Netherlands into Germany), this province is populated by an ethnic people whose language and customs are more closely related to the English than the Dutch.

Flag of the Province of Friesland
Flag of the Province of Friesland

Friesland united with the other independent lowland provinces to become the Republic of the Netherlands in 1648.  However, in 1806, the country was made a satellite state of France, with Napoleon's brother Louis as king.  In 1813, after Napoleon's defeat, independence was won.  It was during the years of French rule that the citizens of the Netherlands were required to take a surname for the purposes of French governmental records and a census, taken in 1811.  Before this time, the Dutch normally used the European common system of patronyms, i.e. surnames derived from the father's name.  A typical name could be Jan Martens, which meant "Jan, Marten's son".  Females used the same system; Gretje Martens meant "Gretje, Martin's daughter".

Map of the NetherlandsWhen Dutch citizens were required by the French to take a surname, many chose their profession, the name of their city or village, or a physical description name - either of the area in which they lived, or a personal description.  There are several possibilities as to why my ancestors chose the name Hoekstra.  It is possible they may have lived at a crossroads (corner).  It is also possible that their ancestors originated from the "Hoek of Holland" (see map).   Thus, it is important to realize that all people with the surname Hoekstra are probably not related, even if they were from the same village or county.  The suffix "-stra" is Frisian, and is used in place of the Dutch prefix "van", with which most of us are familiar.

The earliest documentation I have found of my Hoekstra ancestors is on a marriage index recording the marriage of Marten Liewes Hoekstra to Fokeltje Jans Haan in the county of Westdongeradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands on 14 November 1820.  This information tells me that Marten's father was named Liewes; he is the earliest Hoekstra ancestor for whom I have a name.  My estimate is that Liewes was probably born around 1750 - 1770.  The marriage record index unfortunately does not give the age of either Marten or Fokeltje, so my best estimate is that Marten was born around 1790 - 1800.  Marten and Fokeltje had a son, Jan Martens Hoekstra (my great-great-great-grandfather), who was born in 1820 in Westdongeradeel; in 1851, Jan was living in the city of Holwerd, which is in Westdongeradeel.  That year, he married his first wife, Pieterke VanTil, in Ulrum, Groningen, the Netherlands.  Groningen is the province that borders Friesland on the east.  Apparently, Jan settled in Ulrum until his emigration to the United States in 1867.

Arnold Böninger, a.k.a. Antwerpen, a.k.a. Jason, a.k.a. Vikingen In 1867, Jan Martens Hoekstra, recently widowed, emigrated with his 15-year-old daughter from Ulrum.  They left the Netherlands from the port of Rotterdam on the Prussian ship Arnold Böninger, and arrived in New York City on 11 June 1867 to settle in Holland, Ottawa County, Michigan.  Holland was a city of Dutch expatriates seeking religious freedom and a better economy.  They had settled the area under the leadership of Pastor Albertus C. Van Raalte of the Christian Seceded Church, of which Jan was a member.  He married a widow, Grietje (Jonker) Dekker, who had three children from her previous marriage, and together they raised two more children to adulthood.  They lived in the Holland area until the 1880's, when Jan removed to Muskegon County until his death in 1909; his son Martin moved to Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, where many of his descendants live today.

To Choose an Ancestory, Click on One of the Hyperlinked Names:

Ruth Lillian Hoekstra (1919 - 2001)

John Martin Hoekstra (1892 - 1975)

Martin Hoekstra (1868 - 1944)

Jan Martens Hoekstra (1820 - 1909)

Looking for information on a different Hoekstra than those listed above?  Do a search on my online database at WorldConnect!

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İMiriam Midkiff, 2003 - 2006